Synopsis by Jason Ankeny
Adapted from Pierre Louys' 1898 novel La Femme et le Pantin, That Obscure Object of Desire is the 30th and final film from the great Luis Buñuel. Recounted in flashback to a group of railway travellers, the story wryly details the romantic perils of Mathieu (Buñuel favorite Fernando Rey), a wealthy, middle-aged French sophisticate who falls desperately in love with his 19-year-old former chambermaid Conchita. Thus begins a surreal game of sexual cat-and-mouse, with Mathieu obsessively attempting to win the girl's affections as she manipulates his carnal desires, each vying to gain absolute control of the other. Brimming with the subversive wit which characterizes all of Buñuel's finest work, That Obscure Object of Desire takes satiric aim at a decadent, decaying society riddled by political unrest and moral bankruptcy. The picture is absurdist even in its casting -- Rey's dialogue was dubbed by the French actor Michel Piccoli, while the two-faced, hot-and-cold Conchita is played, logically enough, by two different actresses (Carole Bouquet and Angela Molina, respectively), with the character's dialogue spoken by yet a third performer. The same Louys novel was also filmed by Josef von Sternberg in 1935 as the Marlene Dietrich vehicle The Devil Is a Woman, and again in 1959 as Julien Duvivier's La Femme et le Pantin, starring Brigitte Bardot.
chambermaid, chase, frustration, maid, middle-age, romance, servant, sex, teasing, wealth
High Artistic Quality